Two-thirds of the carbon in the terrestrial biosphere is stored as soil organic matter, and plant roots are the primary source of this stabilized soil organic carbon. While the soil surrounding roots accounts for only 1-2% of the total soil volume, the rhizosphere can provide 30-40% of the total soil organic carbon input. The microbes in the rhizosphere provide precursors to stabilized soil organic matter by transforming plant root exudates into microbial biomass and accelerating breakdown of plant tissues and root detritus. However, the soil microbial communities and carbohydrate/lignolytic gene transcripts mediating root-accelerated decomposition are largely unidentified. This project focuses on determining the dominant carbon-cycling organisms in rhizosphere communities by sequencing root-associated metatranscriptomes and single cells of taxa we have identified with RNAseq analysis. The aim of this sequencing project is to test the hypothesis that plant roots have a significant effect on the decomposition of macromolecular carbon compounds.
Proposer’s Name: Jennifer Pett-Ridge